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John W. Keller
Sgt.
16th Infantry U.S.A.

"..in which was a copy of the treaty offered by the United States, it rather seems the opinion of the soldiers generally that the Mexican Government will accept of it..." Sgt. John W. Keller 15 June 1847, Mexico


[Transcript of Letter penned by John W. Keller to his father, Frederick Keller of Lititz, PA. This letter references several of Keller's comrades in arms and names some of his friends in PA. In this letter, he also references a desire to someday return to PA, where he "so carelessly spent the days of my youth (John W. Keller left behind in PA a son whom he never saw and whom was born out of wedlock)." His opinion of Mexicans is rather blunt.] CAMP OPPOSITE CAMARGO, MEXICO
JUNE 15, 1847

Dear Father,

I received your letter of the 20th of last month last night just about a half hour before tattoo and I assure you it was the source of joy and gratification to me. To hear from you first to hear that you are all well at home, and that things are going on about right, and secondly, that you are satisified with my conduct thusfar in regards the Mexican War. But how could I think otherwise, when I for a moment reflect and think that you are satisified in your mind, respecting its constitutionality, I say and always have said that the war is a just and constitutional war and the fiercer and more vigorous we carry it on, the better for our independent country, I am no longer in that delightful part of North America, the United States. But I hope I may meet with success, and after the war is ended with the ˙ellow bellies, which will be ere many months elaps, I will return and once more be able to breath the pure atmosphere of the mountains of Kentucky and other states, and if things change in regard to my affairs, which you gave me a hint of, I will endeavor to visit my old native state, Pennsylvania, and that delightful shop and garden of America, Lancaster county, where I so carelessly spent the days of my youth.

I wrote to you last week and gave you nearly all the particulars so far as respects the war and the country, and since that time, nothing of any consequence has occurred, save some little news from the city of Mexico, concerning Santa Anna's resignation of which I suspose you are appraised of. I tell you again this is a bad place for news, we hear but little, and what we do hear, every person elsewhere knows long before it reaches us. The Americans in Le Camargo say that it is a very difficult matter to get papers up from the Brazoo, they say it is the fault of the postmaster at that place, but letters come on regularly and I hope they go to the States regularly, for I am anxious that you should hear from me two or three times a month, while I remain in Mexico, and rest assured that I will apprise you of all the most interesting events and occurrences that transpire while I am in the Army.

I am well satisified and pleased with my trip, and delighted with performing the duties that are required of me as corporal and endeavor to discharge them to the satisfaction of my superior officers, and I am proud to say that a better man in every respect never trod the Mexican soil than the captain of our Company E. That same Theophulos J. Garrard is beliked better by the men of the whole regiment than any other captain in the regiment.

My health is very good, I thank God can say that I have enjoyed excellent health since I have been in the Army, and I hope you are all sharing the same blessing. The health of our regiment is tolerable good, we have had but few deaths in the regiment, only one died in our company since we left the States and he died at Brazoo ago and my opinion is that he was a regular bred habitual drunkard for the last twenty years, and of as a matter of course could not stand the climate. In short, he was no account nohow, and I can't see why they enlisted him, but poor fellow, he showed willingness to fight for his country, and I hope he is now in a better world.

Our Colonel John W. Tibbatts is not here yet, but we expect him in two weeks with some 200 recruits for this Regt. Leut Col Henry L. Webb is in command here, and he is a very fine man in every respect, he wants the men to do their duty and no more, and said the Government shall and must to the duty to the soldiers. On Sunday morning the 13th whilst we peraded for inspection, and the way we were praised by the Leut Col was no mans business. He said we went thru the exercise like old regulars, and not like new recruits, said he, "men, you done remarkably well and deserve credit for it."

Ever since we have been here, some have been at work clearing a space of ground for our regiment, the space is 1080 feet one way and 800 the other, on a beautiful level spot some quarter of a mile farther up the San Juan, than our Old Ground. We moved here on the 13th all in regular order and pitched our tents nice and regular, after which we detailed a guard for the new ground 12 men were detailed, one sergt and three corpl, I constituted one corpl, they were divided into three reliefs on the same night the sentinal of foot number seven fired at two Mexicans, and raised the alarm, immediately I had my relief peraded and marched them to the spot, but after searching come time, we found nothing. Every man was armed in two minutes and a half, and ready for battle, but we could find nothing, and consequently every man lay down with his loaded musket by his side so as to be ready at a word, after the first alarm I received orders to post 35 sentinals around the encampment, instead of 12. And number them differently to what they had been, and also change the countersign, which I had changed to Col Johnson, after I had them all nicely posted and numbered, I hurried to the guard tents where I was received by the officer of the guard and sergt of the guard who had 28 men ready for a relief, which I accordingly numbered and told to lay down with their muskets in their arms, when one of them said his musket was the best bedfellow that ever he had. They lay probably twenty minutes when the sentinal at number 13 fired, and I tell you if ever an army of men were up and ready in a short time for battle it was the 16th Regt on the night of the 13th of Jun about midnight, Camargo, but the next question is what did the sentinal fire at? Why at a spotted mule that was feeding in the shapperell about 50 yards off. But it looked exactly like a man, he halted it with who comes there, but the dumb brute still moving towards him he let drive which was the cause of so much commotion in camp that night, since that everything has been quite and peacable, and we are going on with our regular duties and living as contented as anyone that is 4000 miles from the enemy and I believe moreso, Leut Garrett told me this morning that he seen a paper which was printed at Matamoros on the 9th ..... in which was a copy of the treaty offered by the United States, it rather seems the opinion of the soldiers generally that the Mexican Government will accept of it, and come to terms.

If such be the case, the war will soon come to a close, and I think if they are sensible and know which side of their bread is buttered they will be glad of the opportunity. And if they do not come at this time, Uncle Sam has Bohogs enough on this line to make them come it, contrary to their expectations and rather sooner than they would like to depart this life. However, do not believe that the friendly Mexicans, on this line are entirely in favor of piece with the "Estados Unious" as a term the United States in their language some of them have large flocks of goat and some have cattle and sheep and they bring any quantity of goat milk in our camp every morning, they sell it at 6cents a pint, the milk is very good, but I was never in favor of goat milk and consequently, I don't make use of it, I would like very well to have just about 1 gallon of buttermilk or sweetmilk at this time, it seems to me I could pour it down like soap sudds in a sink hold, as regards liquar, I don't noe any whatever, there is some here, but my opinion is it will kill any man in this hot country. And I find that those that didn't make use of it fare far better than them that use it. I at all events prefer letting it alone,

The weather at this time is unaccountable hot, and were it not for the continual breese that is stirring, a person could not live here, and a person can see these yellow bellied Mexicans half naked with very broad rimed hats on, some loafing about in the hot sun, and some working, some few are industrious and some are as lazy as anything can be, those that are industrious keep themselves tolerable clean and look tolerable decent but others live like hogs. They build their huts out of cane and mud, and have no chimney, nor anything to sit on old dried cow hide answers for seats and bed and table they have no plates nor forks and are certainly the filthiest of the human race. The women are about the same some clean and decent while others are dirty and filthy as I have seen but five or six Mexican ladies that I considered in any way handsome. In short I have made no choice yet and don't think I shall because I am conciety enough to believe I that I can do better in the states. Whenever you hear any person say that the Mexicans are handsome, don't believe it and think they are a deceitful set of rascals that will rob, steal, murder every opportunity they have or get.

We boys find it tolerable difficult to get them to understand our language, as well as for us to understand them. But some of us are learning tolerable fast and will now give you what little news I have of present & close, Gen Taylor is ordered not move on to San Louis Potosi, but to remain where he is, as Camp Taylor is miles this side of Monterrey, our Regt will be stationed along this line to garrison the Provinces and Company E will probably march on to Cerralvo or Meir. I don"t know which place nor how soon the last I heard of Gen Scott he was Puebla, and I suppose he is in the halls of the Montezumas as presently and from all appearances he will have no more fighting shortly, everything appears to be quite and calm, and the work is going on smoothly and nice. No more as present.

Give my love to dear Mother, Sister & Brother & my compliments to all & everybody. I remain your Dutifull Son

John W. Keller
16 Inf U.S.A.

Write to me immediately and tell F Christo to write to me and give me all the news that is in or about Hernhutt, also tell F Pain to to write to me immediately, direct to John W. Keller. Camargo Mexico 16th Regt Company E. Care of Capt Garrard. If there should be a wedding you must inform me of it as soon as possible. Farewell


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Submitter Roland Keller
These are a series of letters written by John W. Keller to his father, Frederick Keller of Lititz, Pennsylvania and to his brother Hiram. At this point, John had "joined the US army" to fight in the War with Mexico. He served in a Company of "Kentuckians", all of whom I believe would trace to the n.e. regions of that state. Also see three subsequent letters written by John W. Keller detailing his experiences in Mexico during the war

Lorine's note: Read more about the US-Mexican War

Read the Keller letters: 10 May 1847 | 15 June 1847 | 17 Feb 1848 | 20 March 1847

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